Monday 18 December 2017

Election 'bearpit' is miles from gravitas of de Valera

David Norris
David Norris

EAMON de Valera, with his subtle mind and the help of first-class advisers, gave us a Constitution that was quite enlightened by the standards of 1937.

Its greatest flaw was not the much-criticised "sectarian" aspects but the second-class status allocated to women. It infuriated feminists, many of them persons of outstanding intelligence and achievement who rightly saw their place as in the parliament or the boardroom, not the kitchen.

De Valera made compromises with the Catholic Church, then as now more comfortable with the opinions and practices of the Middle Ages than with modern times. Archbishop John Charles McQuaid hated democracy and wanted in its place a bizarre system called vocationalism. This bore some resemblance to the system in fascist Italy under Benito Mussolini, but the Irish version was fairly harmless, not to say meaningless.

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